Saturday, February 20, 2010

February 20, 2010
It's been beautiful all week but today we woke up to overcast skies and rain at about ten, which is when I believe the Scottsdale Parada del Sol was supposed to get underway. Of course, the cruel joke is that the parade, loosely translates into Parade of the Sun, although I think I heard somewhere that the syntax isn't right on the name (it was created by a bunch of white guys most of them from the midwest). Still, it's a shame that the parade which preceeds the Scottsdale Rodeo got rained on bigtime.

I was going to join Kathy for a new Steve Buscemi movie (Saint John of Las Vegas) at noon down in the Beast but I think we'll snuggle in and rent a movie instead.

An Education In Reverse
Having essentially died once already I am quite aware of getting a second chance and one of the byproducts of this mindset it that I've been going back and trying to reclaim an education I avoided like the plague the first time around.

Yesterday, when legendary screenwriter Jeb Rosebrook (Junior Bonner, The Black Hole, Mystic Warrior, The Gambler) and I drove up to Cordes Junction to interview an old cowboy (he's 81) who still goes out dancing several times a week, Jeb asked me about my reading habits when I was a kid. Like most writers he naturally assumed I read voraciously as a young man. I had to laugh because I don't remember books being discussed at all when I was growing up, unless you count the bible. And, in fact, that's the only book I remember in our house, or in my grandparent's houses (one in Iowa, on the farm; and the other in Arizona). I think my farmer kin had Reader's Digest by the bushel but no books that I can remember.

The only thing I did read voraciously, and I know this is going to sound phony, is True West magazine. But, it's true.

Just recently, I read two classics, Tales of Canterbury by Geoffrey Chaucer and The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger. I was thrilled by both of them, but it's not just books. Last night I watched the classic movie Harold & Maude, which I had never seen.

Yes, I'm finally doing at 63 what I should have been doing at 13. One of these days I might even get around to my multiplication tables.

When I flew to Salt Lake last week, I was reading Catcher in the Rye on the plane and when we landed, two women sitting nearby both asked me as we stood up to deplane, "Reading it again for pleasure?" No, I sheepishly told them, I'm reading it for the first time.

That's not totally true. In 1962 I was at Rick Ridenour's house and he asked me if I wanted to see a book with the word "fart" in it. I was stunned. Really? There is a book that actually prints that? I couldn't believe it. We went back into his older brother's room and he pulled the book out from under a matress and as I sat down on the bed he handed me the book, opening it to a dog-eared page.

Wow! I thought. What's this world coming to?

So it was fun to read that page in context, 48 years later. I must admit, I didn't laugh as hard as I did when I was fifteen. Meanwhile, The Canterbury Tales was written in 1399 and it is full of fart jokes.

"He must need swim that is born up to the chin."
—Geoffrey Chaucer, The Knight's Tale, Canterbury Tales

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